At Lent: less meat, less Google

Lent begins today, but the Protestant in me has never been very comfortable in the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. I went along in seminary, and followed local practice in my last pastorate, but since that ended haven’t — to coin a phrase — haven’t been imposed upon.

Still, I’ve been reflecting more deeply and now vocally about two things that have bothered me for some time. First, I’m not eating meat, at least nothing I’ve not already bought. I suspect there’ll be a place for the odd anchovy or oyster in my future, but food with feet are right off the menu. (I suspect the fish will be spared in time.) Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals — and its sideways take-down of Michael Pollen’s macho-neurotic The Omnivore’s Dilemma — is the most proximate cause. Foer makes a good case ethically and philosophically, but my faith is why I listen to him and not others. I hear St. Paul in Romans (8:18-25, here NRSV)

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Behind the groans, I hear the moos and bleets and chirping. Is salvation pushed so far future that it can not be tasted now? And if it is known now, how can it be enjoyed from the suffering of others. It is, at least in my setting, needless. And needless suffering must be rejected. (Just labor and trade are other concerns, and I’ve written about these, at my Boy in the Bands blog. And shall continue the practical pieces of this theme there.)

If not eating animals is an experience of realized eschatology, then my concern about Google is about freedom and consumption. I mention it in tandem with vegetarianism because I feel obese with the amount of data I’m consuming, and such a large part coming from and through Google. Or if I was to cite scripture, Google seems a lot like Mammon. It’s like a cheap, convenient and delicious food — but it’s not the world, and recent mistakes — such as Google Buzz — suggests that the clever kids from Mountain View are either testing the waters or are tone-deaf to the privacy concerns of its users. Bad, bad move. Again, practical details at Boy in the Bands. (In a related note, former office-mate Lizzie is giving up Facebook and Twitter for Lent.)

7 Replies to “At Lent: less meat, less Google”

  1. “I feel obese with the amount of data I’m consuming”

    Exactly. I really like how you tied the two concepts together. Thanks as well for the shoutout. I am taking my Lenten dietary cues from one of Pollen’s collected proverbial sayings in the NYT Slow Food blog:

    Eat foods in inverse to how much it’s lobby spends to push it. -Kirk Westphah

  2. At Lent I do not always abstain from something (some years I fast, and donate the un-used food money to charity). Most years I add a special spiritual practice. This year, as in most years, I am spending Lent reading and thinking about Doris Grumbach’s book “The Pressence of Absence; On Prayer and an Epiphany”. The book struggles very honestly with the struggle of feeling God’s pressence in your life, and not feeling God’s pressence in your life. The absence/pressence of God is an issue I struggle with on a regular basis. And each year Doris helps me to see something I didn’t the year before.

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